Summary of RNA LUA Session 1

The Roosevelt Neighborhood Association (RNA) is hosting a Land Use Academy (LUA) made up of a series of five community forums. The first in the series, Roosevelt 101, was held July 25, 2015. A video of the first meeting may be viewed below and on YouTube.

Former RNA board member Jim O’Halloran moderated the forum, starting by saying that the idea behind the RNA LUA is to “empower” the neighborhood, get everyone “on the same page,” and “have [our] voices heard.”  By the end of the LUC in Fall of 2015, he plans to produce some “statements” about the three main issues Roosevelt is dealing with these days; the Sisley properties, the Transit Oriented Development (TOD) at the Sound Transit Station, and the possibility of the Roosevelt reservoir being decommissioned.

The new Director of the Department of Neighborhoods, Kathy Nyland, spoke around minute 6:00.  She started by saying that she thinks the City could do a better job getting people educated and empowered about the issues affecting them in their neighborhoods.  She would like to make this information more relatable and understandable; she cares less about the outcome of the LUA and more about the process itself.

At around 21:00, the City’s Department of Planning and Development’s (DPD’s) Ryan Moore spoke about the big picture, the City’s Comprehensive Plan, and how that gets translated into how a community actually looks and feels.  Ryan said that there aren’t other neighborhoods in the City that deal with neighborhood planning at the level of sophistication that Roosevelt does.

Renee Davis, a member of the group from the 1990’s called “Tomorrow’s Roosevelt” spoke (starting at 28:00) about the effort they lead to get consensus on the direction the residents of Roosevelt hoped their neighborhood would take.  She said that after an extensive survey (all hand-delivered), the overwhelming majority of Roosevelt residents wanted the light rail station underground and near the business core.  They also identified that they wanted the density associated with the new station to be tiered; tall buildings shouldn’t buttress single family homes.  They wanted parks and open space as well.  Most folks thought the reservoir should be a park, pool, or community center-they were told it would be “capped.”

Ravenna neighborhood activist Barbara Warren spoke (57:00) about the process of putting together the update to the Roosevelt neighborhood plan.  Barbara, a retired affordable housing lawyer, said the overriding objective for the 2006 neighborhood plan update was to plan for the increased density and growth targets.  The 2006 update ended up exceeding the growth targets given by the City.  The committee identified neighborhood priorities, again, through surveys. Respondents asked to absorb the density while maintaining the mountain views from Roosevelt High School (RHS), provide a range of housing options, and preserve the architecture of the single family homes.  The 2007 announcement by Roosevelt Development Group (RDG) to put 16 stories in front of RHS whittled down to a 2011 contract rezone for 12 stories.  The contract rezone application was never finished, however, as a 2012 legislative rezone increased the zoning in front of RHS from 4 stories to 6 stories.

Jim O’Halloran gets into the details of the legislative rezone around 1:11.  After Mayor McGinn changed the zoning from 4 stories to 6 stories in front of RHS, a plan called the “Sustainable Livable Roosevelt Plan” or SLRP offered more density along I-5 in the form of MR (mid-rise zoning that is being developed now) in exchange for leaving the 40′ zoning on the “Fruit Stand Block.”  All 9 City Council members came to RHS one night in 2011 to hear about 400 people stand up and give comment.  He said that in the end, “things didn’t turn out our way,” but the legislative rezone did give concessions to the neighborhood in the form of further setbacks from the street and designated green streets on NE 66th from 15th to 8th and 66th to Ravenna Boulevard, making the rezone “easier to swallow.”

At around 1:21 into the video, RBCA’s Land Use Chair Sarah Swanberg adds that Ravenna residents got involved in the Roosevelt rezone because 65th and 15th is the gateway to Ravenna.  Sarah felt that it was hard to make an informed decision about whether 6 stories in front of RHS would actually block the view of the mountains but, in the end, the decisions were made by people who showed up at the meetings.  Ultimately, the City Council made the call to put 6 stories instead of 4 in front of RHS.

The second forum, Current Issues in Land Use Planning, will take place Saturday, September 19. Visit the RNA website for more information.